Chapter 23:


Phantom Adagio

“Why did you not tell me you were her girlfriend. Aren’t we friends?”

I looked Sara in the eyes and was met with a sad and lonely stare. This really was an unfair weapon. I quickly responded “Of course we are friends. It’s just that I can’t talk about it.”

“At least now I know why Lise never wanted to invite you over when we met. She was just jealous.”

“She was what?”

“You were always with Lise back then. I remember worshipping you like an unattainable idol and you used to be really cute too. I wanted to be just like you back then. I even decided to learn the cello after hearing you play at the academy. I used to beg Lise to introduce the two of us, but she always had an excuse not to do it.”

My heart was beating rapidly, and my breathing was becoming more and more erratic again. This was a whole side to Lise that I never knew about. Was that why she never talked about knowing Sara? She didn’t want us to get closer? This image conflicted rather hard with the always gentle and jovial Lise that was always there to help me.

“Well, can’t you at least tell me why you can’t talk about it? That way I might understand.” Sara then asked. She was trying to do her best to be understanding. But she was asking all the wrong questions and giving me no room to flee. The accident started to replay in front of my eyes. I felt cornered. I wanted to get out, but she was there in front of me. So instead of running, I lashed out at her.

I grabbed Sara by her collar and frantically asked “You really want to know?”

I could see the fear in her eyes, but I did not stop. I removed the bangs in front of my scar and showed her my ugly face.

“It’s because I was there. I see it all happening the second I start talking about it. How she lay lifeless on me when I woke up. I even hear the screams of my dad and smell the burning flesh again each time someone just mentions her or my parents. I lost everything because my dad pulled me out of that car. I should have been with her! We should have been together forever! This scar is here to remind me every day of the fact that we are apart.”

Sara started crying and muttered, “I-I’m sorry, I had no idea.” Before storming out of the room. I felt my knees go weak and let myself drop to the floor. Tears started rolling down my eyes. There goes my one and only friend. I guess it was only a matter of time before I screwed it up.

I wasn’t sure how long I spent alone on the floor wallowing in self-deprecating thoughts, but I was brought out of it by a gentle hand caressing my cheek. “What on earth happened to bring you into that state?”

I looked up, only to see the last person I wanted to see me in this state. Nastya was staring at me and looked me right in the eyes. Where was I? What was she doing here? She waited a little longer, and because I did not say anything. I felt completely disorientated. Suddenly she sighed and muttered “Grandpa was right. You are becoming just like dad. You live too much in the past.”

She got up and locked the door. “This does not get out and you won’t tell a soul about it!”

I gulped. What was she going to do? She looked me in the eyes “Promise?”

I nodded. It’s not like I was talking about anything but music with Aleksei anyway. Anything else only resulted in him insulting me.

“If you can’t tell me using words, then tell me with your music.”

She took out her violin and tuned it. Wait, wasn’t this going against everything she always said about music just being mathematics?

The second I touched Rosalinde it felt like coming home. Nastya was right. I could communicate like this. If the emotions started overflowing, I could just pour them into my music. I tuned her and immediately started improvising a tune. I cut deep into the D minor scale while throwing in some erratic off-scale notes creating an eerie atmosphere.

I thought about everything that happened today that got me into this state. Axelle, the girl that looked like Lise, but was nothing like her. The story of why Lise did not tell me about Sara. Seeing the accident happen over and over again in front of my eyes, and my lashing out toward Sara resulted in my only friend abandoning me. Oh, how I missed Lise. I am a mess without her.

Suddenly a bright violin sound mixed into my lament. It was like a bright sun bursting through and dispersing the cloud. Instead of being stuck in the mud, I was pushed forward seeing the beautiful landscape of a new horizon. This bright sound guided me, and I followed it. Then the tune became playful and started to tease me, making me chase it around in circles. I was becoming completely entranced by this sweet melody.

Our duet continued and little by little while my mind was clearing up, my own sound started to become more and more in tune with Nastya’s melody. I pushed her out of her own comfort zone and took it to the next level and started to poke at her now. I heard Nastya giggle before she put in a counter offense. It had been a long time since music had been this much fun for me.

Nastya drove the song toward a climax, and we ended it with a wide major scale chord, perfectly complementing each other.

I looked her in the eye and noticed that she was blushing. I felt that my own heart was beating really fast too. She quickly put in the effort to gain composure again before she said in her usual haughty voice,

“I am glad I helped you feel better. I need my rival to be in top shape.” She tried to keep up the haughty rival act, but her music had just betrayed her and had revealed a totally different Nastya to me. The Nastya behind the act.

“Nice going there. She won’t be able to think about anything but you after that show. I said this before, but just try to keep the fantasies to a minimum while we are connected.” Rosalinde said inside my head. I felt my blush intensify.

Before I could react, we were disturbed by a knock on the door.

“Why is this locked. It wasn’t locked when I left. I hope she is alright inside!” I heard Sara say.

A louder knock immediately followed afterward. “Open up!” That was Aleksei’s voice. I could hear he sounded worried.

Nastya walked calmly toward the door and unlocked it. Immediately Aunt Christina, Ms. Vanderstuck, Aleksei, and Sara entered the room.

“What were the two of you doing inside that you needed to lock the door?” Aleksei asked.

I immediately turned my head away and started blushing, but Nastya kept her cool and answered. “We had an intense… conversation about music. I did not want to be disturbed.”

“You do realize she is lesbian? You shouldn’t lock yourself up with someone like her in a room, you never know what she might do.”

Did he just out me in front of Aunt Christina and Nastya? What was this day turning into? I started to feel weak again. Just when I thought it could not get any worse, this had to happen.

Nastya slapped Aleksei in the face. Aunt Christina, Ms. Vanderstuck, Sara, and I stood there perplexed as we were watching the spectacle with their mouths agape waiting to see how Aleksei would react.

“If you are locked in a place with a woman, does that mean you need to assault her? By the way, I was the one to lock the door. Now apologize!”

For a second, I doubted if Aleksei was about to slap her back, but then he started laughing.

“Fine, I apologize. I did not realize the two of you had gotten this close.”

“What the hell are you insinuating?” she angrily replied. She clearly did not take Aleksei’s usual bout of insults in her stride and turned it into a fight.

While Aleksei and Nastya continued their sketch in the hallway, I noticed Aunt Christina looking at me. She clearly wanted to say something to me, but she was cut off by Sara.

“I’m sorry I left you. I did not know what to do earlier and decided to get help…”

So, she did not just abandon me. I felt a relieved smile creep on my face and patted her head to show her it was fine.

Aunt Christina then said “Don’t worry. I’ll accept you no matter what. I told you that before, didn’t I? Even though it wasn’t in the most ideal way, I am glad I found out. We will have a talk after your performance.” Ugh, a talk about my sexuality with my aunt. I think I felt more anxious about that talk than about the performance.”

“Seems like I wasn’t needed here after all.” Ms. Vanderstuck then said. Aunt Christina and Ms. Vanderstuck wished us all good luck and left us in the dressing room. If they stayed too long, they would get into trouble with the staff as only participants and their teachers were allowed in here. The only reason they came up here, was because they thought there was an emergency.

But wait… Why on earth was Ms. Vanderstuck here today?